Sep 9, 2019

British Airways cancels 1,700 flights due to pilot strike

British Airways planes.

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

British Airways has canceled 1,700 flights over the next 2 days in response to a strike by company pilots demanding higher pay, per the New York Times.

The big picture: The strike, which has disrupted approximately 195,000 passengers' travel plans, comes after months of pilots attempting to negotiate a pay hike. According to Forbes, the pilots union behind the strike says the walkout is costing the company £40 million ($49 million) per day, but could be settled for £5 million ($6 million) total. The pilots are set to strike again later this month if their demands aren't met.

  • The airline says it contacted customers ahead of time and offered refunds or rescheduled flights in preparation for the event.
  • In August, the company sent an email to customers warning of a planned strike, but later followed up saying it had confused the timeline and misstated when flights would be affected. Many customers expressed frustration over already having rescheduled.

By the numbers: British Airways offered to raise pilots' pay 11.5% over 3 years, which pilots belonging to 2 separate unions have accepted.

  • But a majority of the airline's pilots belong to another union called the British Airline Pilots' Association (BAPA), which is also seeking a share of the company's profits. In 2018, those profits reached £2 billion ($2.5 billion) — up 11.6% from a year prior.
  • According to the airline, an average captain earns £167,000, or about $206,000. The proposed raises would reach more than £200,000 per year, or $247,000.
  • BAPA's secretary, Brian Strutton, said in a statement that pilots have "previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times."

What to watch: The next strike is set to take place on Sept. 27 if the parties cannot find a compromise.

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